Tag Archives: Cod

Too posh to chew? Have a Quenelle

kawan kawan, for those of you who’ve been following me, you’ve realized that I’ve been out of commission for a bit… it was not because I’ve abandoned you or the blog – I would never do that. ūüôā¬†¬†It was due more to the shortage of time that I’ve not been blogging of late. ¬†But the dust of La Rentr√©e has just about settled. I’ve ja-ust about got the girls and me back to our daily routine of school runs, homework, violin practice and all the little things that keep me from finding the right moment to blog. ¬†But I am back again, no worries because part of my daily routine is to find the time for myself, non?!?

I’ve been active again at L’atelier des chefs. ¬†It is wonderful to catch up with Debbie K and Mrs M, my usual partners at French cookery school. ¬†On this occasion, Silva D came along too. ¬†She’d been wanting to join L’atelier for quite some time but just haven’t managed to find the right time to do so. What propelled her this time round to find a slot in her busy schedule was ¬†this: ¬†she will be leaving us for Milan, her hometown, shortly and she really wanted to profiter from a L’atelier class. So, voil√Ę, here we all were to learn how to cook quenelles de cabillaud. ¬†I’ve never cooked this dish before so I was very excited to learn.

Basically quenelles are tear drop shaped pieces of minced meat or fish, in this case, poached in milk or water until done. ¬†Some would call it egg shaped. In any case, it is not so much the shape but the preparation and cooking process that make a quenelle a quenelle. ¬†The binding factor is egg white which is added to the fish and cream to be blended until smooth. ¬†Lyon and Nantua are two places famous for their pike quenelle usually served with a creamy sauce. Pike is a fish with many small bones so the best way to cook this fish without the hassle of removing the bones whilst you are eating it is to churn it in a blender before cooking. Of course, if you were a “real” chef, you would use a tamis, a cylindrical sieve invented in the Middle Ages to strain, grate and mill food.

A tamis sifts and grates ingredients finer than any other utensil, and the texture of the strained material is evenly consistent.  Modern kitchens have blenders or Magimixes which does the same job with a push of the button.

Quenelles are very easy to eat, kawan kawan. It hardly needs chewing since it is so finely blended and poached just right that all you need to do is shuffle spoonfuls into your mouth and swallow. Watch how a toddler with no teeth eats and you’ll see what I mean. ¬†The quenelle is really posh baby food with a lot of flavour.

After chopping, blending and poaching, it was time to serve up.  We were shown how to dress the plate with the quenelle sitting atop a bed of sauce de champignons.  The mushrooms were stir fried in a little olive oil with one minced shallot and a whole clove of garlic still in its peel, then blended with a little cream and some milk used to poach the cod.

Posh baby Food - Quenelles de cabillaud

The experience was…how shall I put it?…. interesting, I suppose. ¬†I haven’t made pureed baby food in a while, considering that RN who is now 5 had stopped eating pur√©es since ¬†she was 7 months old. ¬†The only mush I make in the house in mash and even that, RN doesn’t fancy too much….strange child, I know ūüôā

The quenelles tasted delicious for the amount of cream and salt that went into it albeit a little bland. I would have preferred it made with spices like turmeric, chilli and curry powder, mixed with coconut milk instead of thick cream, then steamed wrapped up in a banana leaf or stuffed in aforementioned banana leaf and grilled (see photo below).  This would fire the fish up a bit, multiply its flavour by a 100 percent and transform the quenelle  magically into an otak otak, a fish mousse widely eaten in SE Asia.

Spiced up Quenelles - Otak Otak

Unless you have a baby who eats spices at 6 months, this is highly NOT recommended as baby food, posh as it also is.

I would go for the quenelle in this case. ¬†Seriously, if I knew of this recipe when I was weaning my girls, I.would.have.made.it, served with champignon sauce over a bed of rice porridge. ¬†If I had done that, perhaps SS would just adore mushrooms now and I wouldn’t have to pick out any mushrooms that she can see thrown surreptitiously into her food or avoid the mushroom section altogether, because why bother? no one accept¬†except the Italian and I eat those fun-guys anyway!

Try kawan kawan this recipe for quenelle. ¬†Just follow the link above. ¬†If I were to make it again, I would jazz it up with a little more herbs and spices, although not chillies, since the girls don’t like spicy stuff (I know, I know, and they are half Singaporean and don’t eat spice nor speak Mandarin. ¬†I’ve been through all that with the Mother!) ¬†Let me know how it turns out. Bon ap√©tit!


Scrumptious Steamed Ginger Cod

Kawan kawan, ¬†the other morning, on my way home from the school drop off, I chanced upon a poissonerie off the Raymond Poincar√©. ¬†This little fishmongers was tucked away at the end of a passage way. ¬†I would never have found it if I didn’t venture into this Parisien passage following a signboard that was advertising the services of an art shop for les petites fe√©s. ¬†My little fairy princess will be turning 5 soon and mamma was looking for a party venue.

Monsieur Poissonnier was very friendly in a chubby sort of way and his wife was equally charming in a less chubby sort of way.  My eyes fell upon a box of cod fillets still packed in ice freshly delivered from Rungis Market.  Aaahhh! I thought to myself, what I would do to have a bit of steamed ginger cod!  So, I purchased a generous piece of fillet that I asked Monsieur to couper en deux.  I would steam one half and save the other for another day.

The girls love their steamed cod. ¬†It’s a childhood dish that SS remembers well, cod doused in a soya/sesame oil sauce served over steamed rice or rice congee. RN, still only 4 and half eats her cod first, then the rice drizzled with that yummy sauce. ¬†This is how it looks:

Steamed Ginger Cod

This dish is easy peasy to make.  My mother used to cook it the old fashion way Рin a wok.  Yes, you can steam meat, fish and vegetables in a wok, kawan kawan.  But these days, one can use a steamer or the microwave.  I, on the other hand, discourage this type of steaming, preferring instead to use this contraption:

Pasta/Drainer Steamer Pot

Necessity is the mother of invention and this is the mother of all steamers invented by moi!, yes moi! due to the lack of steaming apparatus in my house appartement in Paris. ¬†This contraption, as the name indicates, doubles as a pasta pot and drainer. ¬†When steaming, I place the fish or meat or vegetables in a metal dish which you’ve seen in the picture above that shows the ginger cod with a generous sprinkling of cilantro (coriander). ¬†The Teochew word for it is wang sui. ¬†Casting my mind back to my mother’s favourite phrase, ‘don’t forget the wang sui!’ , I remembered to dress my fish with this herb and also a handful of chopped spring onions.

This metal dish is then placed into the drainer which sits atop the pot filled half way with water that is allowed to boil to create the vapeur needed to cook the fish.  15 minutes later and voilà, you have steamed ginger cod.  Cod is an easy fish to cook and is best eaten fresh, that is, purchased on the same day.  It is an easy fish to wean children on too.  Both my girls were weaned on cod.  I decided to ignore the warnings given by paediatric nutritionists of the possible effects of anaphylactic shock caused by cod in toddlers.  I am not advocating that you take this gung ho approach of mine, of course.  This was a perfectly self induced choice because I was determined that my children would love fish and luckily for my kids who have me as their mother, they do!

Well, steamed ginger cod is not for everybody. ¬†The Italian, for one, abhors steamed ginger cod. ¬†He doesn’t know what he’s missing, of course. ¬†So, remember the other half of the fillet? ¬†Well, I saved it for him. ¬†Remember also that cod is best eaten fresh? ¬†So, I decided to follow my own advice and bake the other half with Ligurian pesto that I should have made, as any bona fide cook ought to do. ¬†But I haven’t yet learnt to make pesto. ¬†I was told that it is easy but the quality of the pesto depends on the basil and that basil from Genoa is the best. ¬†So, Genoa being rather too far away ¬†and not knowing where in Paris to get Genovese Basil, I, out of necessity, popped open a bottle of Sacla Ligurian pesto sauce, spread it generously on the cod, drizzled a generous amount of olive oil and stuck the fish in the oven. ¬†Here’s one I made earlier:

Ligurian Pesto Cod

This took me only 15 minutes.  I served it with fresh egg Fettucini mixed with the olive oil from the cod. Yummms!